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As You Like It | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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As You Like It | Act 3, Scene 4 | Summary



Rosalind and Celia await Orlando, who has promised to visit Ganymede, but he's late. Rosalind is on the verge of tears and goes back and forth between thinking him a liar and praising his virtues. "His kissing is as full of sanctity as the touch of holy bread," she sighs, to which Celia responds that he kisses with "a pair of cast lips of Diana" for his kisses bear "the very ice of chastity." She then agrees that he must indeed be a liar since he has not arrived. Rosalind asks if this is Celia's true opinion, and Celia admits that though he is probably not a pickpocket or a thief, she doubts that he is truly in love.

She then says that Orlando is staying with Rosalind's father, Duke Senior, in the forest. Rosalind reveals that she has spoken to her father in the guise of Ganymede, "but what talk we of fathers when there is such a man as Orlando?" Celia mocks him as a youthful coward, implying that he's all talk and no action. After all he "writes brave verses, speaks brave words, swears brave oaths," but where is he? He hasn't shown up as promised.

Corin then enters and asks if the two would like to get a peek at a lovers' scene that is about to play out nearby. It is a young shepherd they know of, who is fruitlessly in love with a "proud disdainful shepherdess." Rosalind entreats Celia to go and tells Corin that she will "prove a busy actor in their play."


Rosalind waffles over Orlando's character because she is uncertain of his love. She hopes to find reassurance in Celia, but her cousin is skeptical and would rather tear Orlando down than build him up. Celia's reference to Diana, a virgin goddess, implies that there will be no warmth of love found in Orlando. Celia may be wise in her skepticism since the women really don't know that much about Orlando, or she may simply be annoyed or jealous that Rosalind's attention is diverted elsewhere rather than on their own friendship. Celia has given up a life of ease to follow Rosalind into the forest, and this rapid shift in her cousin's affections must sting and make Celia wonder about her own future. If Rosalind marries, where will that leave Celia—stuck in a shepherd's cottage alone?

Celia isn't the only one Rosalind is neglecting. She and her father, Duke Senior, have been parted for years and yet when she meets him in the forest she does not reveal her identity. Instead she remains disguised and speaks to him as if they are strangers. She has no interest in talking to Celia about Duke Senior but would rather focus her attention on Orlando. Her dismissal of Duke Senior suggests that Rosalind doesn't yet want to be back under his wing. She has just gained freedom of action for the first time in her life and most likely wants to be in charge of her own fate, especially when it comes to love. While her father might offer the women protection, he might also forbid Rosalind to see Orlando—why risk it? Although her dismissal of her father is a bit cold, it does show she is confident she can make it on her own. This stronger, more capable Rosalind contrasts with the confused, depressed Rosalind who was exiled just a short time ago. She has grown in personal power and is more in charge now—no doubt facilitated by her disguise as a man.

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